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Golden Nuggets: From Football to Basketball

There’s not a whole lot today...

NCAA Football: California at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t miss the news regarding the recent tragedy in San Pablo. When I get more information on how to help the Horn family, I or a colleague will give it its own post rather than sticking it with all these articles. (Feel free to email me or post in the comments, here or in the above link, if something like a Gofundme has been made and I will make a post ASAP)

Football

  • Nam Le’s final “Novel” of the 2017 season.

In the end, though, the season ticked right on out in familiar fashion – the Bears fell a game short of bowl qualification, plagued by a whole host of errors, some self-inflicted, and some not. The comparisons to the 2014 season get even more eerie when you realize that the play-in game involved Cal facing an opponent missing their quarterback – Christian Stewart replaced a hurt Taysom Hill, and Devon Modster did the same for Josh Rosen in the second half.

When zoomed in that far, it would appear that Cal is starting to flat-line as a program after yet another 5-7 year, and hiring Justin Wilcox is far short of the defibrillator we hoped for.

Breathe. Now zoom out.

And then remember that this season began to fall apart with injuries as early as week 2. The defensive heart of the team was gone in 7, its springy, long framed young stud in the making linebacker after 9, and alongside countless others: a right guard kicked off the team, a left tackle who transferred to another Power 5 school, a contender at safety, the top wide receiver on the team. No statistical model or professional pundit – outlets that tend to balance out the undying optimism of our fanbase – expected the Bears to be competitive in damn near every effort, upset a top 10 ranked team, or to be fighting for bowl eligibility on the final week.

Those 2014 and 2016 Bear teams felt like they underachieved, relative to their talent level.

That was not the case here -- it is more than fair to suggest that this team was completely maxed out, which is fine for year one. The trajectory of the program is still on course, despite lacking that tangible achievement of December football.

Now, holding this long term view and being disappointed in the game on Friday are not mutually exclusive. The Bears should have taken this, and they should be heading to a bowl right now – UCLA being in a state of chaos and Josh Rosen going out in the second half gave them ample opportunity to come out and get the points needed to win.

They didn’t.

And that sucks.

But if this program is headed where we think it can be with the guy we hired – consistently difficult to deal with, regular bowls bids, and potentially more – then this is also the last time we should be here for a while, hanging our heads and tallying missed opportunities after week 12.

Can’t wait.

  • Cal finished the regular season at 11 in ESPN’s Power Rankings.

That’s all for now, maybe for a while. Let’s move on to the next two major Cal sports in session.

Basketball

But I don’t even have much here either... I know the men’s team isn’t that good and women’s sports aren’t that followed, but I’m disappointed in how little the teams are being covered in all the Cal sites I have bookmarked to check... but oh well, that should change as football season ends.

  • Learn more about new Cal Bear Austin McCullough!
  • Kianna Smith was named Pac-12 Freshmen of the Week after her efforts against Manhattan (win) and Missouri (loss). Her first of hopefully many.

Soccer

  • Women’s Soccer player Indigo Gibson was named a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, perhaps the most prestigious trophy given in College Soccer and is awarded to the best man and woman in the sport. She is the first Cal player to make the semifinalist list since Alex Morgan (who would also become a finalist, but didn’t win) in 2010. Three of the fifteen women will move up to the finalist list on December 8th with the winner being announced in January.